Bankruptcy, Credit Unions and Cross-Collateralization of Loans

One issue that periodically comes up in bankruptcy cases is cross-collateralization of assets by credit unions. What does that mean? Cross-collateralization is basically the use of collateral from one loan to secure other loans.

Most credit unions, including local credit unions here in Rochester, New York, use “Loanliner” documents. These form agreements are used by financial institutions for their lending transactions. Included in standard Loanliner lending agreements is a provision in which the borrower agrees that all other loans with the lender are cross-collateralized. The cross-collateralization clause from a recent Loanliner agreement reads: “the security interest also secures any other loans, including any credit card loan, you have now or receive in the future from us and any other amounts you owe us for any reason now or in the future.”

Credit unions often use this clause in vehicle loan agreements to secure all other credit union debts with the vehicle. This may surprise someone when they discover that the debt on the car may include a personal loan, a line of credit, and credit card balances.

There are a few options in bankruptcy if the debtor has a cross-collateralized auto loan. If a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor can request that the credit union prepare a reaffirmation agreement for the vehicle without regard to other debts. In this situation, the debtor is asking the credit union to voluntarily strip off the cross-collateralized loans. If the credit union rejects such request, the debtor has two options: (1) surrender the vehicle and discharge all debts to the credit union; or (2) redeem the vehicle.

If the debtor surrenders the car, the credit union takes the car back and sells it, usually at auction. Any deficiency left on the car loan and all additional cross-collateralized debts owed to the credit union are discharged in the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If the debtor in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy chooses to redeem the car, the debtor gets to keep a vehicle by paying the value of the vehicle, not the total debt that is owed. While somewhat similar to a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy cram-down, redemption requires that the payment to the secured creditor must be made in a lump sum and does not allow for payments over time.

If the debtor is filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the loan can be crammed-down to match the vehicle’s value provided that the loan is over 910 days old. Any remaining debt is treated as unsecured debt and is discharged at the end of the Chapter 13 case. Another option is to surrender the vehicle just as in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.